What are Foster Carers and what do they do?
In a very small nutshell, Foster Carers are ordinary people who open their heart and their home to vulnerable young people who need alternative family care.
Any child separated from their family will feel confused, anxious and distressed. Foster Carers are there to provide a welcoming, loving, supportive and secure home environment; where young people feel valued, respected and part of the family.
Some foster families provide short term care, while other young people need a home for a longer period. Foster Carers provide care for children and young people from 1 night up to 18 years depending on their availability and circumstances.
Foster Carers are required by law to be assessed by a suitably qualified assessor, and then approved by an independent panel of people with knowledge and expertise relevant to fostering. Post-approval, Foster Carers must maintain and expand their skills and knowledge as any other professional would. They are supported and guided by a Supervising Social Worker, who is different from the Social Worker allocated to the child in their care.
Foster Carer Tasks
The day-to-day tasks for each Foster Carer will be different. It will depend on the children or young people they are looking after and the individual plans for them as agreed with the Locl Authority that has Parental Responsibility for the child. Being a Foster Carer involves more than just looking after a child. As a Foster Carer you are expected to do everything you can to support children and young people in every aspect of their life: their education, their health and their social wellbeing. This can often mean taking a new perspective to understand the barriers a child has or is facing to achieving their potential.
To promote and protect the physical and mental health of children and young people, foster families provide good food, warm clothes and a clean and safe home environment. They need to arrange for regular dental and eye tests; perhaps a child or young person may need support to access mental health services to help them work through their past experiences. They also must talk to Social Workers about any concerns and advocate for any extra services the child needs.
Foster Carers need to act as a vital source of support in all these areas; working in partnership with other professionals such as therapists, teachers or doctors to help the child to understand their situation, achieve their potential and grow into responsible adults.
Every child is unique, and their situation is different. Foster Carers will help and support the child to maintain contact with their birth family where this is appropriate and part of the Care Plan for the child. This might mean providing transport for the child to and from contact sessions, or even being a part of the contact sessions, again where this is appropriate. Maintaining relations with birth family can sometimes be confusing and painful for children in foster care, so an empathetic, non-judgemental approach is a must.
Foster Carers take a close interest in the lives of the young people in their care and help them to feel valued, respected and listened to as individuals. They set boundaries to help children and young people behave appropriately and communicate positively. In this way, children and young people grow and mature into independent, responsible adults.
Foster Carers are expected to welcome children and young people into their home and family completely – this means they will be joining family holidays, events and routines. There are times when a young person will find this hard to do; patience and understanding is required here too.
Working as Part of a Team
Foster Carers are not alone in their role. As well as working as part of a team of professionals to provide the best care for their foster child(ren), Foster Carers themselves receive a high level of support and training to fully equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on even the most challenging of foster children!
An important part of the Foster Carer role is attending meeting related to the health, care and education of the child placed with you. As the person or people taking care of them, your insight is crucial to inform how to best continue supporting them. Foster Carers should consider themselves to be Professional Parents advocating for the young person and keeping their best interests at the centre of what you do.
Lorimer recognise the hard work that our Foster Carers do. They display such professionalism daily, and that does not come overnight. Therefore, we put our Foster Carers at the heart of our service. We ensure that they are fully equipped to provide the best possible care to young people. They never have to feel that they are alone in this journey; as Lorimer are there to guide them through every step of the way!
Get in Touch
If you would like to learn more about becoming a Foster Carer then please get in touch for a chat. You can call or WhatsApp Rachael on 07938 575 738, or submit your details using the form below and we will call you back. We recruit Foster Carers from all across the North West, and we would love to hear from you!